Aviation plays an important role in humanitarian operations around the world, especially in countries where overland transport is difficult or impossible due to insecurity, damaged or inadequate infrastructure, and/or challenging climatic conditions. Aviation allows for the transport of humanitarian aid workers and humanitarian cargo to communities in some of the world’s most inaccessible places.
This Standard Administrative and Operating Procedure (SAOP) establishes guidelines and procedures that enable reliable and efficient air operations for the use of the humanitarian community.
1.2 ESTABLISHMENT OF UNHAS
During the Fifth Session of the United Nations High Level Committee on Management (HCLM) held in New York on 12-13 June 2003, the Committee requested the World Food Programme (WFP) to take responsibility for administering air transport services for United Nations (UN) agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) involved in humanitarian and other activities not directly related to peacekeeping. Effective January 2004, WFP became the managing body of United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS).
1.3 GENERAL PRINCIPLES
UNHAS bases its policies and procedures, staff qualification criteria, and aircraft chartering agreements on the United Nations Aviation Standards for peacekeeping and humanitarian air transport operations (UNAVSTADS). This SAOP further captures the various legal, contractual, and safety standards under which UNHAS operates. These procedures are in place to assist and guide UNHAS staff and users.
Operating in accordance with these standards does not diminish UNHAS ability to flexibly respond: in challenging and changing contexts, like conflict or disaster, the operational requirements and priorities invariably change over time and the operational response must adapt accordingly. Air operations are inherently flexible and can be quickly adapted to meet these new situations and requirements. The operational structure and procedures must remain flexible and responsive to new and/or changed needs. To this end, these procedures will remain under constant review and subject to amendment as required.
The size and composition of the aircraft fleet is regularly evaluated and is subject to adjustment in line with the humanitarian requirements and priorities, operating conditions, and/or the funding situation.
The working assumption is that air operations will cease activities once the humanitarian community is no longer reliant on UNHAS and a safe, reliable, and sufficient commercial air service exists or less costly means of safe surface transport are able to meet the need.